The perfect pair of shades can frame your face and bring out the very best of your unique features. Inspired by the vibrant spirit of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, retro sunglasses are a great addition to any closet or travel suitcase. While there are many retro styles to choose from, these are the 8 most popular frame shapes from the past that new brands are bringing back.
Popular Types of Retro Sunglasses
- Butterfly: These resemble the shape of butterfly wings, with oversized frames with a gentle upsweep in the outer edges.
- Aviator: Originally created by Ray-Ban in the 1930s, Aviators evoke pilots’ goggles and a sporty feel.
- Cat-eye: Similar to Butterfly frames, but the upsweep is much more dramatic and sharp — as in a cat’s eyes.
- Round: Circular lenses usually paired with thin, metallic rims and temples. John Lennon immortalized the small round sunglass look, reminiscent of reading spectacles.
- Wayfarer: Wayfarers feature trapezoidal lenses with thick plastic frames, and were initially conceived by Ray Ban’s parent company as a mid-century classic in 1952.
- Pantos: Pantos sunglasses look like round models with a slight elongation and tilt at the bottom of the eye. The top is flatter than in round lenses, and both bridges and temples are placed higher than usual.
- Browline: The bold upper part of the frames frame the lenses in the same way that eyebrows frame the eyes — hence the name “browline”. They first emerged in the 50s and 60s. Clubmaster, by Ray-Ban, became one of the most popular browline models in the 1980s.
- Pilot: Similar to Aviators. Pilot sunglasses, however, tend to be oversized and have a thicker bridge. The top bar and bridge are usually united to form a single piece, which makes these sunglasses look like goggles.
To help you visualize these shapes, I paired them with chic examples from 10 affordable brands that are doing an amazing job at reviving these timeless frames. None of the sunglasses listed below are above and the cheapest pair starts at $9.99.
Butterfly: Butterfly by Polette
Aviators: The Tuff Safari by CRAP
Cat-eye: Invader by Quay Australia
Round: Retro Hippie by Zero UV
Wayfarer: The New Wayfarer Classic by Ray Ban
Pantos: Steff Sunglasses by Wildfox
Browline: Cleopatra by LeSpecs
Pilot: Hot 64mm by Carrera
Any other favorites?
I hope these 8 retro sunglasses and the brands behind them have gotten you excited about trying something new. I know just putting this roundup together turned out to be more expensive than I expected — sorry, credit card! What are your favorite retro sunglass brands these days? Let me know in the comments section below.